Guest Blog: Why Foster Carers are instrumental to the Adoption process
I've been working on a blog about our interaction with and experience of the Foster Carers who cared for our children prior to their adoption.
Completely coincidentally I was approached by the National Fostering Agency who asked if I would host a guest blog for them about the fostering system. Foster Carers really are the unsung heroes of the adoption system as far as I am concerned, so you can imagine I was very happy to help.
So here is the first every guess blog on my site. I'm very proud that it should come from the National Fostering Agency's Layla Grant. My blog on fostering will follow tomorrow.
Fostering is the process of offering care to children who need it at the most difficult times in their lives. This could be either very short-term (for a night or two), more medium-term (a few weeks or months) or on a longer-term basis (months or years). However, it’s important to realise that there is a distinction between fostering and adoption, even in longer-term cases.
Fostering and adoption have some undoubted similarities but they are two distinct processes, with some key elements that differ between them. Many people get confused between the two or assume that they are the same thing, when this is not the case.
Foster parents, however, can and do play a very important part in the adoption process, and do so in a number of ways. Let’s have a closer look at them here.
Foster parents who adopt
As a foster carer, you may come to develop a very close and strong bond with the kids in your care. If the circumstances are appropriate, it may be the case that a foster parent goes on to adopt the child or children in their care. It is often a very natural transition in some cases but there are no obligations and in many cases, the circumstances may not be right for either the foster carers or child at that particular moment.
Foster caring is also invaluable experience for people who are considering adoption but need to be sure it is the right choice for them. It is often advisable to try fostering first before making the more permanent decision to adopt. Even if this is just for short periods it can provide an insight into the challenges and rewards that you face. Of course, all of this will be with the support, advice and supervision of the agency.
Preparation for adoption
As we mentioned above, foster carers offer care and support for kids at often the most difficult and challenging times of their life. Difficult home conditions or personal circumstances can be very tough for kids to deal with, so a foster carer is there to offer a stable environment and support. If the child is in a position to be adopted, the foster carers role is then to help prepare them for this life-changing and significant event. This could involve talking through with them what happens during the process. Supporting them through meetings with agency staff and even meeting potential adoptive parents. Each case is different and there are no hard and fast rules (as is the case with most fostering) so good communication is essential.
As mentioned above, the ability to communicate is vital and this involves both talking and listening. You will need to listen to any concerns the child might have and make sure they understand what is happening at every stage of the process.
It is useful for foster parents to speak with other foster carers, adoptive parents and social workers at all times through the process. This will help them to best deal with the situations as they arise.
Fostering can have a huge impact on the lives of all involved. This can just be in terms of offering a stable environment for children who need it but it is also an integral part of the wider adoption process.